The Maid's Daughter: Living Inside and outside the American Dream

By Mary Romero | Go to book overview

3
Being the Maid’s Daughter

It was weird to me that we lived in this private neighborhood. There were gates,
huge gates that blocked off the streets so no cars could come in. They had com-
bination locks. It was not open to the public. I knew everybody who lived there.
Nobody came in. We went out, but nobody came in. I remember seeing these kids.
On one side was a Black neighborhood, and I saw these Black kids. I knew there
was something else that I had no access to. At the same time, I was privy to being
able to come in. My mother undid the combination, and we locked the door. We
were able to lock the door and go out.

We walked up Olympic Boulevard for a while. I saw the high school, and I saw
that all the things were different. (Interview, June 1990)

Early on in this project, I found myself captivated by Olivia’s recollections of moving across social boundaries and the incredible contrasts of wealth and poverty she experienced. As Olivia told her story from the perspective of the child she was at the time, her joy of experiencing Mexican culture, filled with family and a spirit of sharing, was quite visibly displayed by her laughter and pride. Immediately evident to me were the contrasts between the social world of the employers and her excursions to visit her godparents, joining in the maids’ gatherings, and summer vacations with her extended family in Mexico. In her stories about these retreats from the Smith household, I began to know more about Carmen as a skillful entrepreneur. Outside the purview of employers, Carmen engaged in a range of entrepreneurial activities that remained invisible to her employers. Among other working-class Mexican immigrants and Mexicans, Carmen is a role model—a successful business woman. The complexities of moving back and forth from social settings

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The Maid's Daughter: Living Inside and outside the American Dream
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Who Is Caring for the Maid’s Children? 21
  • 2 - Becoming the Maid’s Daughter 48
  • 3 - Being the Maid’s Daughter 83
  • 4 - Passing and Rebelling 115
  • 5 - Leaving "Home" 154
  • 6 - Making a Home 186
  • Epilogue 221
  • Notes 235
  • References 255
  • Index 265
  • A Bout the Author 267
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